Attention to Faces Expressing Negative Emotion at 7 Months Predicts Attachment Security at 14 Months

Child Dev. 2015 Sep-Oct;86(5):1321-32. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12380. Epub 2015 May 22.


To investigate potential infant-related antecedents characterizing later attachment security, this study tested whether attention to facial expressions, assessed with an eye-tracking paradigm at 7 months of age (N = 73), predicted infant-mother attachment in the Strange Situation Procedure at 14 months. Attention to fearful faces at 7 months predicted attachment security, with a smaller attentional bias to fearful expressions associated with insecure attachment. Attachment disorganization in particular was linked to an absence of the age-typical attentional bias to fear. These data provide the first evidence linking infants' attentional bias to negative facial expressions with attachment formation and suggest reduced sensitivity to facial expressions of negative emotion as a testable trait that could link attachment disorganization with later behavioral outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attention / physiology*
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Eye Movement Measurements
  • Facial Expression*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Mother-Child Relations / psychology*
  • Object Attachment*